The Little Women Play Hostess

Last week the Little Women enjoyed an extended visit from some special guests on Jonathan’s side of the family: their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, and their nine cousins (plus Aunt Aubrey’s dog). As part of giving their visitors a taste of the Pacific Northwest, they reprised last summer’s hike in Wallace Falls State Park.

The hike started out under some large power lines, which crackled loudly in the morning sun (yes, sometimes there is sun in Seattle). It reminded Jonathan of the house he grew up in outside of San Francisco.

The hike followed the course of the Wallace River some of the time.

The rangers’ office handed out these bingo cards to kids with the promise of a prize for those who spotted enough foresty things.

Annika and Maddy were buddies during the hike, and during all other activities that week.

Daddy, why must you keep taking pictures?

Annika and Nicolyn sporting their family-reunion T-shirts on the trail. Aunt Autumn designed the shirts.

Here is Nicolyn at Lower Falls. Surprisingly, Nicolyn greatly enjoyed the hike and asked if our family could go hiking more often.

After considerable effort (and a break for a snack), the hikers cruised past Middle Falls and made it to Upper Wallace Falls. This was new ground compared to last year’s hike.

Annika and Nicolyn with their aunts and cousins at Upper Falls.

The 5.4-mile hike helped everyone sleep a little better that night.  Hopefully the guests will come back for more hikes in the future.

Indoor S’Mores

The camping trip got rained out, but the Little Women enjoyed some roasted marshmallows thanks to the broiler in the oven.

Christmas in Germany (in April)

And now for a very belated report about how the Little Women spent their Christmas break. The short answer is that they spent it in Germany, the place where Jonathan would gladly spend every Christmas.The week before Christmas they flew into Frankfurt, where they met up with Aunt Aubrey. (This is important because during the trip Aunt Aubrey introduced them to many life-changing activities, like taking selfies, posing for photos with statues, and doing facials in your hotel room.) Their short time in Frankfurt allowed them to visit Christmas markets in the old part of town and also see Mainz, the old stomping grounds of Johannes Gutenberg.

After a couple of days they took a train to Dresden, in the eastern part of Germany. Having previously spent Christmas in Dresden, the Little Women knew that a great Christmas market was waiting there for them, along with beautifully restored buildings. On Christmas Day they visited the historic and beautiful cities of Görlitz and Bautzen.

Once Christmas Day was over, the Little Women packed up their growing stash of holiday treats and took the train north to Berlin. While there was much to like about Berlin (what with the girls’ love for hip European capitals), their favorite part about the city was the fantastic breakfast that the hotel served every morning.

With December drawing to a close, they whisked back to Frankfurt to spend one more night there before flying home. When the plane touched down in Seattle, the Little Women had great Christmas memories, and Jenelle and Jonathan still had their sanity, so it must have been a fantastically successful trip.

More pictures are here.

A Day in the Snow

On Friday the Little Women took advantage of mid-winter break to drive into the Cascade mountains and visit Hyak Snow Park. They were thrilled to find two to three feet of snow waiting for them.The park’s main attraction was its sledding hill, but it turned out that their sled wasn’t very good.  (Maybe that’s why someone gave it to the Vances for the low, low price of free?)  Fortunately there was plenty of fun to be had with snowball fights, digging snow caves, and tromping through the forest.

Pre-Fab Housing

The Little Women celebrated the first Advent Sunday by building gingerbread houses.  This year Jenelle decided to use some nice pre-made kits, made in Sweden by the masters of pre-made kits, Ikea.

That’s right, for only four dollars, you too can purchase a Vintersaga house kit. Like most Ikea products, it appears to be made of brown particle board, assembly is required, and the instructions have no words. The lifespan of this particular kit is short even for Ikea.

Of course, it also comes in a flat pack. Clara finished her house first.

She claimed that the marshmallows in the chimney of her house were supposed to be smoke, but really it was so that the chimney could serve as a candy dish later on.

Below is Jonathan’s gingerbread lake house. Note the fish doing tricks along the shoreline.

This is Annika’s house. She designed the pool so that it waters the adjacent Christmas tree.

This is Nicolyn’s house. If any of our diabetic readers were injured by viewing this picture, we apologize.

And here is Jenelle’s house. Note the skillful use of Life cereal (gingerbread-spice flavor) to simulate the appearance of a thatched roof. Jenelle saw many houses with a thatched roof while living in England, and she can give all sorts of reasons why you should be glad that your home does not have one.

The Little Women vs. the Volcano

The Little Women were clamoring for a camping trip this summer, so after recovering from their Yellowstone visit, they packed up the tent and headed to Seaquest State Park in southern Washington.

Seaquest State Park is not near the sea, but it is near Mt. St. Helens, which gave the Little Women a chance to examine a real live volcano up close (but not too close).  They also visited Ape Caves, which is North America’s longest lava tube.  (Don’t worry–the lava left a long time ago.)  In between they engaged in time-honored camping activities, like dropping marshmallows into the campfire and playing Squirmy Wormy, a game that involves crawling into your sleeping bag and pretending to be a worm.

They hope that there will be more time for camping next summer. . . .

More pictures are here.

The Little Women of Yellowstone

Last month the Little Women and their parents made their annual trek to the Mountain West.  After visiting their grandparents in northern Utah, Annika, Clara, and Nicolyn headed north to Yellowstone National Park.  They stayed at a cabin in Island Park, Idaho–our readers probably know Island Park for having the longest main street in the USA (33 miles).

The best part of the trip was that they spent it with their cousins, aunts, and uncle.
After three great days exploring the park (along with 30,000 other people), the Little Women drove to Pocatello to spend the night with another aunt and uncle before driving back to Seattle.

More pictures are here.

Wallace Falls State Park

Last Saturday the Little Women and their parents drove into the Cascade Mountains to visit Wallace Falls State Park. There they had a lovely hike and saw some beautiful waterfalls.

A good time was had by all, even if it didn’t always seem that way.